Magazine article Addiction Professional

Comfort in Treating Co-Occurring Disorders: Menninger Operators Chose Timeless Furniture Designs for New Facility

Magazine article Addiction Professional

Comfort in Treating Co-Occurring Disorders: Menninger Operators Chose Timeless Furniture Designs for New Facility

Article excerpt

In May, the Menninger Clinic opened its new facility in Houston. Named the "Epicenter," the 120-bed psychiatric hospital offers psychiatric assessment and stabilization as well as services for substance abuse, eating disorders, adolescents, young adults, and professionals in crisis.

The layout of the new facility is designed to treat patients with a variety of co-occurring disorders, including those involving addiction. In fact, two-thirds of Menninger's patients receive treatment for co-existing psychiatric and addictive disorders.

The new facility features a number of amenities, including an onsite pharmacy, an interfaith chapel and a wellness center with a weight room, aerobics room, gymnasium, outdoor therapeutic saltwater swimming pool and sand volleyball court.

But even when plans for the grounds were first envisioned, Larry Denoyer, Menninger's vice president of facilities and property management, says one of management's primary goals was to develop a sense of flow that would allow patients to feel as comfortable as they would in their own home.

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"The vision we had was for a campus-style facility, a setting that felt warm and welcoming," explains Denoyer, who oversaw daily construction, was a member of the leadership team planning, and now serves as safety director. "We didn't want an institutional look. We wanted there to be a residential feel, as well as a 'park-like' atmosphere."

To create that atmosphere, Menninger took a sprawling 47.5-acre property and carved out a 25-acre campus. According to Denoyer, the facility had a $1.3 million landscaping budget, which afforded the opportunity to transform a flat, bare piece of land by transplanting 650 trees and incorporating several large berms.

Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the campus design elements reflect a harmony with humanity and the environment, set off by several courtyards, a sculpture garden, outdoor terrace and a "meditation labyrinth." Walking paths run throughout the campus, complete with covered "gathering spots" where patients can sit on a bench and talk.

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Common areas

Even when patients are situated indoors, there is a "natural" quality to the atmosphere due to the high ceilings and large window panes that allow natural light to enter the buildings.

For the common areas, Denoyer says furniture was selected in the "Arts-and-Crafts" style, with most pieces manufactured by L. & J.G. Stickley (www.stickley.com). "The furniture is heavy and you can push it around, but it's not something you're going to pick up," he explains.

Furniture is upholstered with custom fabrics, which were selected to be "pleasing to the eye" but that also had a high "rub factor" (a measurement that indicates a fabric's resistance to abrasion).

"We chose fabrics that would be durable and last a long time," explained Denoyer. "And the furniture itself is timeless, which means that in 20 years most pieces could still be in use and not appear institutional. It will just be a matter of making repairs and reupholstering as needed."

A similar approach was taken with the floor covering throughout the facility. …

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